The men’s market is in a relaxed mood.
With sales picking up in the second half and some popular items for fall already emerging, retailers shopping the trade shows in Las Vegas were feeling little stress.
Adding to the optimism were the spring fashion trends of colorful swimwear, comfortable ath-leisurewear and nautical influences in everything from outerwear to accessories. The marriage of function and fashion was also a key market mover, with merchants embracing utilitarian detailing in garments that also sported performance attributes.
“Men’s fashion moves at a glacial pace,” said Patty Leto, senior vice president of merchandising for the Doneger Group. But that pace is quickening as the male consumers’ desire for fashion heats up, she added. Driving the men’s wear acceleration, she said, was the influence of beachwear, ath-leisure and the continued demand for performance.
Key volume drivers for the season, according to the Doneger team, include graphic Ts, printed tank tops, unconstructed sport coats, flat-front shorts, joggers, true activewear and printed swimwear.
Tommy Fazio, president of Project, said the two biggest categories at this market were swimwear and the “whole California lifestyle. Those are the big growth opportunities.”
David Mihalko, divisional merchandise manager of men’s sportswear for Belk, said following “some softening after the second quarter, we finished spring strong. Back-to-school has been good,” he said, with the “usual suspects” — activewear, ath-leisure, particularly jogger bottoms in twill, and complementary tops leading the way.
Mihalko also cited the outdoors business, especially Columbia, which is up in the double-digits through back-to-school. “The Millennial customer is shifting to outdoor and we’ve reflowed our men’s area to accommodate that.”
He said this business has come at the expense of the traditional collections resources such as Polo. But the “denim business still has a pulse, as long as it’s slim-straight or stretch.”
This should bode well for the fourth quarter, Mihalko said, as long as the weather cooperates.
At the shows, he and the team were looking for the “evolution of ath-leisure,” as well as nautical influences in sportswear, utility pieces and different lengths in shorts.
Luke Woellhof, men’s contemporary buyer for Marios, said, “Wovens are the big driver right now but we’re also looking for knits, piques and printed linens.” Casual chinos and “interesting shorts” were also on his shopping list along with swim trunks in digital prints from Orlebar Brown and seersucker models from Lacoste.
Brand: Tommy Bahama
Designer: Bradley O’Brien
Aesthetic: With a motto to “Make Life One Long Weekend,” Tommy Bahama has zeroed in on island-inspired, relaxed lifestyle sportswear.
Key Styles: This is the first collection designed by O’Brien, who joined the Seattle-based brand last summer as executive vice president of design and product development. While she has retained the company’s hallmark tropical-inspired lineup of short-sleeve wovens and knits, O’Brien has also worked to offer up an assortment of dressier silhouettes. “No one does Hawaiian prints better than we do,” said Peter Leff, executive vice president of wholesale, “but we’re seeing opportunity in dressier knits and yarn-dyed wovens.” O’Brien has also put emphasis on graphic T-shirts with kitschy phrases, which Leff said are “on fire. Our customers like the chuckle.” This category, which retails for $45, also serves as a “vehicle to attract a new and younger customer to Tommy Bahama,” Leff said.
Prices: Woven shirts retail for $118 while knits range from $88 to $128.
Brand: Lacoste Underwear
Aesthetic: Launched in France in 1933 by Rene Lacoste, the brand’s signature crocodile logo has become synonymous with upper-end tennis sportswear.
Key Styles: A year ago, Lacoste licensed Delta Galil, an Israeli manufacturer, for underwear and loungewear. For spring, the brand is offering two new programs: a high-end Tencel with a soft hand and sophisticated aesthetic in a subdued color palette; the second features microfibers and is targeted to a more youthful customer, according to Stephen Casey, national sales manager for the line. The color choices here are much more striking and include bright orange and turquoise. “These are the top of the pyramid,” Casey said. Both programs are offered in trunks and boxer briefs but the microfiber collection also has a shorter square cut.
Prices: Both collections are sold as singles and priced at $28.
Brand: Frescobol Carioca
Aesthetic: The signature of the five-year-old brand centers around the tropical spirit of Rio de Janeiro.
Key Styles: The brand started out creating one-of-a-kind “beach bats,” or paddles, from leftover pieces of wood found in Brazil, according to Harry Brantly, cofounder. It eventually moved into swimwear, offering prints based on the mosaic sidewalk patterns found in Brazil. The trunks are made in soft, lightweight fabrics from Lake Como, Italy, that dry quickly and still look good. Brantly said there are two main silhouettes, a tailored short with button-front closures, and a sport model with an elasticized waistband. Both models are available in two lengths. For spring, guava pink, aqua and slate are the main color stories and new patterns are based on the sketches of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. In addition to the swimwear, the brand also offers a casualwear collection of activewear, chinos and linen shirts, shorts and trousers.
Prices: The swimwear retails for $195 to $250.
Designer: Jungho Geortay
Aesthetic: Geortay held posts at Kenzo, Jean Paul Gaultier and Paul & Joe before launching this line in 2013. The Korean-born designer, who is now based in Paris, is known for his hand-painted prints. The collection is currently sold at Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Key Styles: Titled “The Twilight Collection,” the spring line is inspired by shadows, which comes through in the patterns. Key styles include shirts with bold prints ranging from a koi fish pattern to a striped shirt with the SaintPaul logo along with matching printed button-up shirts and shorts, printed T-shirts, a sweatshirt embroidered with a swimming pool ladder, and swim trunks, which are a new category for the brand.
Prices: Shirts retail from $200 to $275, sweatshirts retail from $150 to $175, trousers retail for $275, and swim trunks retail for $185.
Brand: Strong Suit Clothing
Designer: Jamie Davidson
Aesthetic: Arkansas-based designer Jamie Davidson felt like specialty stores were missing affordable suits that cater to the Millennial customer so he launched Strong Suit two years ago. The suits, which will be sold in Nordstrom this fall, are made in Mexico City and Davidson recently introduced a made-to-measure service. Davidson will also begin offering shirts this spring.
Key Styles: Linen suits, formalwear in silk dupioni and ties handmade in Italy.
Prices: Suits start at $595 and go up to $675. Shirts retail at $145 and ties range from $125 to $135.
Aesthetic: For spring, AG Jeans focuses on new washes — including moonwashes that lend a marble effect to the denim — along with new silhouettes including a style with a slight drop crotch.
Key Styles: The Apex trouser jean with a slight drop crotch and a tapered leg, a sage military-influenced jacket made from a broken twill, the Stockton tailored skinny jean with a slim leg and two-way stretch, shirts with a band collar, a suede jacket in the brand’s popular Dart silhouette, and denim made from PDF fabric that helps create strong pigments.
Prices: Denim retails for $225, jackets retail at an average of $325 and shirts retail for $198.
Brand: Adidas Standard 19 by United Arrows & Sons
Aesthetic: The line marries a streetwear sensibility with performance attributes.
Key Styles: Now in its second season, the Adidas Standard 19 offers all the bells and whistles of a true technical collection but in silhouettes that speak to an urban customer. For the collection at Liberty Fairs, the company partnered with Motofumi “Poggy” Kogi, creative director of United Arrows in Tokyo, to create an all-navy capsule. The association includes some nods to Japanese heritage including a traditional robe, but the garment is infused with a glow-in-the-dark yarn to transform it into a functional piece. Traditional German soccer jerseys sport the United Arrows logo instead of one for a team, and there is a bonded mesh bomber jacket with zippers on the sleeves and nylon details that would look at home on the basketball court or walking around SoHo. The collection is sold in Asia as well as a few retailers in Europe, but is not currently offered in the U.S.
Prices: T-shirts retail for $75 while the bonded bomber jacket is $260.
Brand: North Sails
Aesthetic: A nautical-inspired collection of outerwear and related sportswear that draws its inspiration from the company’s history as the leading sail-making manufacturer.
Key Styles: North Sails was founded in 1958 and now outfits racing teams and leisure boats around the world with sails. That expertise has been applied to apparel that has become popular for its use of technologically advanced materials. Fresh off an acquisition by private equity firm Oakley Capital in London in 2014, the brand is entering the American market for spring under the direction of former Scotch & Soda chief executive officer Eric Bijlsma. Robert Polet, former Gucci ceo, is a partner in the venture. “The whole ethos of the brand is an extension of the North Sails innovation, technology and performance pushed through an apparel filter,” said sales manager Franco DiCarlo. Outerwear features water-repellent fabrics and taped seams to protect against wind and water but the design is modern. There is also performance fleece, drawstring-bottom pants and other complementary pieces.
Prices: Jackets range in price from $250 to $800.
Brand: The Hill-side
Designers: Emil and Sandy Corsillo
Aesthetic: The brothers, who started this Brooklyn, N.Y.-based brand in 2009, are best known for their ties, pocket squares and handkerchiefs made from Japanese fabrics. In spring 2014 they expanded the line to include apparel. The collection, which is made in either the U.S. or Japan, has workwear references and is sold in stores including Union Made and Stag.
Key Styles: The Corsillos spent the first couple of seasons establishing their core pieces, which include button-up shirts, unstructured tailored jackets and chinos. Now they are expanding the line to include pieces such as the El Segundo shirt, a collarless, three-button popover shirt with pockets, along with the Ueno collared jacket with The Hill-side patch. Sneakers are another popular category for the brand and this spring they will introduce a high-top style designed from a 1970s U.S. Navy bunk shoe.
Prices: Shirts are priced from $175 to $225, jackets retail from $396 to $449, denim retails from $198 to $225, shorts retail at $168, sneakers retail from $150 to $198, and chinos retail at $198.
Designer: Guido Biondi
Aesthetic: Operated by the Sevenbell Group, which also owns Italian denim brand Roy Rogers, President’s was the name of a line started by creative director Guido Biondi’s grandfather. Biondi relaunched the collection, which is made in Tuscany, and puts a relaxed spin on Italian dressing.
Key Styles: A suede bomber jacket, Japanese cotton T-shirts with chambray patches, drawstring shorts and trousers, a hand-painted camo-print jacket, a ripstop jacket with seersucker lining, and denim made from Japanese fabric.
Prices: Denim is $270, T-shirts retail at $170, and leather and suede outerwear ranges from $1,695 to $2,200.
Designer: Vanessa and Charles Velkes
Aesthetic: This U.K.-based brand was started in the late Nineties by brother and sister Charles and Vanessa Velkes who wanted to create quality sunglasses at a great price. The sunglasses are free of an outer logo and are sold at retailers including Fred Segal, Urban Outfitters and Nasty Gal.
Key Styles: The spring 2016 collection is Spitfire’s take on classic gentleman’s sunglass shapes mixed with 1940s Noir references. The Post Punk sunglasses feature flat inset lenses with screws while the Off World style updates the aviator with flat, mirrored circle lenses.
Prices: Polarized styles retail at $59 and nonpolarized options are $39.
Brand: Res Ipsa
Aesthetic: The footwear and accessories brand uses Turkish rugs and other unconventional fabrics to create “timely updates to timeless styles.”
Key Styles: The brand was founded by Odini Gogo and Josh Moore, two lawyers from Georgia, who were searching for ties that were conservative enough to wear to work, but with a modern twist. The name is Latin and means, “the thing speaks for itself,” a phrase that every first-year law student learns, and is a nod to the brand’s unique product range. Shoes, dopp kits, belts and bags are made from one-of-a-kind vintage Turkish rugs. But in a quest to offer “things we could repeat,” according to Moore, they created prints and patterns ranging from the Sistine Chapel and Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” to Harris tweeds for slip-on shoes. Carryalls are offered in a camouflage fabric and neckwear patterns include repp stripes, tartans and polka dots. “We start from the premise that everything is what we want to wear. That’s the litmus test,” said Gogo.
Prices: Shoes retail for $245, ties are $125 and bags are $495.
Aesthetic: The outerwear brand combines classic men’s wear styles with performance attributes and modern silhouettes.
Key Styles: The jackets are mainly layer-based, according to founder Whitney Hunter, and are designed to serve as shells that can be worn over other apparel pieces. The collection interprets classic designs such as peacoats, trenchcoats and parkas with functional details such as waterproof breathability, ergonomic styling and contemporary design. The Baluster, for instance, can be worn as a sport coat, but zips up into a moto jacket with a hood to wear in the rain. The Keystone is a water- and windproof field jacket/car coat, while the Arch is a boiled wool bomber with a brushed tricot interior. All of the models are named for bridge construction terms, which Hunter said is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the brand’s mission to “bridge the gap between fashion and performance.”
Prices: The line retails from $300 to $800.
Brand: Snow Peak
Designer: Lisa Yamai
Aesthetic: Tokyo-based Lisa Yamai serves as the creative director for the line that was founded by her grandfather, Yukio Yamai, an accomplished mountaineer, in 1958. The outdoors-inspired apparel line was launched in fall 2014.
Key Styles: The company is still well-known for offering a collection of camping equipment such as titanium flasks and French presses, and its apparel offering is an extension of this lifestyle. Among its most popular items are a three-layer shell parka in cotton indigo interwoven with nylon that will fade like a pair of denim jeans. A mesh camo jacket is made from mosquito netting that has been chemically treated with geranium oil to repel pests. The line is broken down into three distinct color stories: navy, gray and cream, the latter of which uses undyed cottons for a distinct look.
Prices: A bamboo cotton crewneck sells for $125 and a laminated cotton jacket retails for $500.
Brand: Massimo Alba
Designer: Massimo Alba
Aesthetic: Alba has a long history in cashmere design and launched his eponymous line eight years ago with a goal to create a luxury lifestyle collection. The designer is known for his bohemian references in addition to his dyeing techniques. Alba is averse to logos, so instead he embroiders a crest on his shirts, which can be personalized with the customer’s initials. Stockists include Barneys New York, Stanley Korshak, Marios and Fred Segal.
Key Styles: Pants with a polka-dot interior lining (a good luck charm for the designer), garment-dyed shirts and knits, along with pocket squares with statement prints and cheeky messages.
Prices: Pants retail from $250 to $395, shirts are $295 to $350, cashmere is $695 to $995, and jackets are $895 to $1,495.
Designer: David Song
Aesthetic: After designing outerwear for brands including Andrew Marc and Kenneth Cole, Song was tapped by Leeward Inc. to produce a men’s line. Song looked to American heritage workwear and Japanese influences to create a collection of pieces with modern fits. The line, which is made in New York City, is in its second season and has been picked up by Barneys.
Key styles: Song designs pieces he wants to wear, which include popover shirts that feature Japanese prints and a pocket for a passport, cotton cargo pants and selvage denim pants and jackets.
Prices: Outerwear retails from $428 to $858, denim ranges from $248 to $408, and shirts range from $148 to $248.
Aesthetic: Started in 1996 as a skate brand, Elwood has since transitioned to target the contemporary streetwear market. The line is grounded in foundational pieces including curved-hem T-shirts and jogger pants, but for spring the brand is delving more into logos and active-inspired pieces along with denim. The line is currently sold at retailers including Zumiez, Karma Loop and Tilly’s.
Key Styles: Athletic jerseys and matching shorts, polka-dot bombers, burnout sweatshirts with curved hems, faux-suede T-shirts, khaki joggers, straight-leg distressed denim, and a tie-dye denim shirt and jogger set.
Prices: Mesh jerseys and shorts retail from $32 to $44, T-shirts are $28, joggers are $48 and denim is $54.
Designer: Allan Francisco
Aesthetic: The idea for Tackma, which stands for “They All Can Kiss My Ass,” was conceived by Jeffrey Schottenstein who sent a pair of NikeiD sneakers embroidered with the acronym to NBA player LeBron James, who wore them in 2012. Since then the message has evolved into a full-fledged line that is driven by its “Seek No Approval” tagline.
Key Styles: Designed by Francisco, who worked for brands including Coogi and Phat Farm, the spring 2016 collection was based on the idea of a rogue fisherman. Nautical references come through with a tonal sweatshirt embroidered with “The New Wave,” along with striped pullover hoodies that feature a glow-in-the-dark drawstring. The varsity jacket with Tackma’s signature thunderbolt “T” logo is a mainstay for the brand, while denim is a new category for spring 2016.
Prices: T-shirts retail at $40, the varsity jackets with interior suit details retail for $600, denim ranges from $160 to $229, hats retail from $55 to $75, and hoodies retail from $160 to $170.
Aesthetic: The casual sportswear brand with the little surfer dude logo is zeroing in on the golf market with a targeted collection of polos, outerwear, pants and shorts with the brand’s same West Coast preppy sensibility.
Key Styles: John O’Donnell has been an avid golfer since he was 12, playing on the golf team at UCLA, so it makes perfect sense that he would want to play in this market. Although golfwear has been part of the line since its inception, this season marks the launch of the Club Collection, which is specifically designed to appeal to green grass shops. Key categories include two- and four-button polos in solids and stripes in cotton or performance fabrics; straight-leg chinos and five-pocket twill pants; a water-resistant “Dew Sweeper” chino and shorts in poplin or twill. There are pullovers in full- or quarter-zip styles, and the pièce de résistance is the Player’s Blazer, a two-button blazer in cotton poplin with a gingham lining. The blazers are offered in two colors, a light blue or an emerald green.
Prices: Polos retail for $69 to $79, pullovers are $98, pants are $98 to $125, the Player’s Jacket is $195 and a rain jacket with sealed seams, Velcro sleeve closures and a bungee tie at the waist is $125.